This book explores the exchange of Blackfoot "medicine bundles" within contemporary Blackfoot culture and between the Blackfoot Peoples and Euro-Americans. These ceremonial bundles, which are circulated as gifts in their native context, are robbed of their statuses as living beings or persons, when they are treated as symbolic objects or commodities by cultural outsiders. Much of the original, ethnographic data presented in this book deals with the attempts of some Blackfeet to repatriate ceremonial materials from Euro-American hands. This book represents a valuable study of contemporary Blackfoot religion as well as the repatriation movement. Kenneth Lokensgard also contributes to the studies of material culture and exchange; central to his investigation is the critical examination and reapplication of the interpretative terms "gift" and "commodity." Careful use of these terms, Lokensgard argues, can better help scholars appreciate how different peoples perceive the worlds they inhabit.
Kenneth Hayes Lokensgard is the Research Coordinator at Washington State University’s Plateau Center for Native American Research and Collaborations. His areas of interest include Indigenous ontologies, Indigenous epistemologies, repatriation, and religious freedom. He has conducted regular fieldwork in these areas with members of the Blackfoot Confederacy of Montana, USA and Alberta, Canada for over a decade. His publications include "The Matter of Responsibility: Derrida and Gifting across Cultures" in the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, "Indigenous Religionists in North America" in Religions in Focus: New Approaches to Tradition and Contemporary Practices, and Native Peoples in The History of Evil (forthcoming from Routledge).
'Kenneth Lokensgard's careful, descriptive, and informative study of Blackfoot Medicine Bundles shows how the commodification of the exchange order eroded the culture of the Blackfoot and offers the opportunity for a critical pause that allows us to raise different and alternate understandings of the nature of exchanges, intimacies, and society.' Charles H. Long, University of California, Santa Barbara USA '... the book is intellectually stimulating for it dwells on many controversial areas. The subject matter of the book that the reviewer found most interesting (the explanations of the meaning of Blackfoot bundles) is clearly analyzed. The chapters bearing directly on them will be useful to teach non-Native students a radically different form of spiritual/religious practice.' Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review